It is difficult to express all of the joy and exhilaration that attendees experienced following their participation in the first International Clinical Engineering and Health Technology Management Congress (ICEHTMC) that was recently held in the beautiful city of Hangzhou, south of Shanghai, in China. The highlights were many: the historic venue on the bank of the famous West Lake (where explorer Marco Polo wrote that he can see “heaven on Earth”), the rich content of the program, the unique professional networking that took place, and the evening culinary and cultural delights—including old pagodas and ancient dynasty poems. All contributed to a very special event that strengthened the connections between clinical engineers in China and the global clinical engineering (CE) community. Judged by the participation and the sound feedback received, the premiere ICEHTMC was a success both for China and the world.
There has been more than a decade of persistent technology management capacity building within the Chinese healthcare system, especially involving CE. Many experts in the healthcare technology community believed that this CE professional evolution in China could serve as a model for others, and the best way to do that was through an international forum. Thus, the idea of global gathering of clinical engineers from around the world came to be. I volunteered to co-chair the Congress with Dr. Zhou Dan and to build an international program committee that selected the topics and reviewed submitted papers.
Endorsement for the Congress was received from around the world and included organizations such as HTF, ACCE, AAMI, WHO, and the clinical engineering division of IFMBE. Clinical engineering societies in Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Brazil, Australia, and Taiwan also supported the event, as did the Chinese College of Clinical Engineering and the Chinese Society of Biomedical Engineering. In addition representatives from the United States, Brazil, India, China, Hong Kong, Bhutan, Malaysia, Italy, Canada, Mongolia, Bangladesh, Thailand, Ethiopia, Singapore, and Nepal took part in the program and shared the point of view of their respective country.
The opening ceremony served as appropriate backdrop for the inauguration of the IFMBE awards program for clinical engineers to recognize the outstanding global achievements of individuals, teams, and manuscripts. Also, during the opening ceremony of the Congress, I announced the creation of Global Clinical Engineering Day to be celebrated around the world every Oct. 21 to educate communities about our profession.
Following the Congress, a special global CE summit was held, in which more than 30 CE experts convened to identify, debate, and articulate common issues and to develop an action plan to address them. An international declaration will be submitted to WHO by the end of this year. The first ICEHTMC will go down the history books as a turning point for clinical engineers in Asia and the world.
To all who made this Congress possible and who traveled so far, a big thank you. From now on, each Global Clinical Engineering Day, we declare: “Together, we can make it safer.”
Yadin David is the founder and owner of Biomedical Engineering Consultants in Houston, Texas.